Living with Dementia: Adult Day Services Allows My Father to be Himself in This Moment of His Life

Winnie Hough and her father, Walter Hough.

My father, Walter, now 84 years old and retired from the US Forest Service, was diagnosed with dementia in the summer of 2014. My mother passed away a couple of years before, and I’m their only child.

He was managing on his own okay, with my partner, Sarah, and me checking in regularly. He fell during an ice storm in February 2015. The medicine he was on to deal with the injuries exacerbated the dementia, and there was no leaving him at home anymore.

We heard about CarePartners Adult Day Services. Day program managers Ann Nichols and Elizabeth Williams helped expedite him into the program, and he was there two days after his fall. He’s been going ever since. At first, it was this spot where he’s going to heal from his injury. Immediately, it became apparent that he’d be part of something with structure and community, and it seemed to help bring him out of his shell.

He has good days and bad days still, but his safety is paramount to anything, and, very shortly, all of my feelings of nervousness or anxiety were outweighed by the fact that he was safe. As a person who’s working full-time as well as being a full-time caregiver, the day program helps me still keep my own identity and my job that I really love at The North Carolina Arboretum.

It’s just been an amazing and positive experience for him and me. There’s a variety of activities—exercises, working on balance, field trips. I think it’s helped to possibly slow the onset of dementia as much as that is possible. They’re doing things to help stimulate his brain.

I cannot say enough about the staff. Every one of them can tune in and connect with patients. It’s not just a group-think experience. That has made the biggest difference for my dad, being such an introverted person and not overly social. They get him, and get his sense of humor and what he’s about.

Being at CarePartners Adult Day Services allows him to be himself the way he is in this moment of his life with this really challenging and terrible disease. Yet, he can still be free to have experiences and enjoy moments and laugh. He even has an opportunity to vent his frustrations. It’s having this place that lets him be a respected human being and a valuable member of a community even when it’s changed what he can give back.

CarePartners has Adult Day Services in Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania counties. The program offers a safe and enjoyable place for aging and impaired adults to stay engaged during the day and provides much-needed time for caregivers to work or manage other responsibilities during the day. For more information, call (828) 277-3399 (Buncombe), (828) 697-7070 (Henderson) or (828) 884-2980 (Transylvania) or visit carepartners.org.

By Winnie Hough

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the news editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment tab and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for more almost six years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.